Tag Archives: pacific crest trail

Notes from Days 39-49 (May 24-June 3)

Day #39 & 40 – May 24th & 25th: We hitched back up to the meadows, getting a late start in the day. It was tough going from 3,000 ft back up to a little over 10,000. It amazes me how beautiful and rugged the High Sierras are…especially when the desert landscape is still in sight! It is so hard to be motivated to hike when around every turn there is a new view and and countless places to set up camp. But the miles are always calling!! It is also crazy to think that a hundred miles ago I was desperate for any source of water and now water flows freely over and down the trail creating small rivers from all the snow melt. 

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Zippy jamming out with Shredder next to him

Day #41 – May 26th : Today I climbed Mount Whitney!!! It was roughly 16 miles round trip off trail, but well worth the extra effort. I was so excited that soon my hiking buddies became nothing more than little specks on the mountain side as I flew up the 14,498 ft climb. It was so rewarding watching all the day hikers in their over the top mountaineering gear fall by the way side as they struggled to the top. I can honestly say that I am, cardio-wise, in the best shape of my life. Mountain Goat, Zippy, Shredder and I hung out eating snacks and soaking up the views before heading back down to put in some actual trail miles. Shredder and I took the opportunity to get some proper exercise and jogged down to the tunes of Johnny Cash and AC/DC. As I was descending,  I stopped next to a guided party that I had passed on the way up to snap a few pictures.. The guide felt like I was in the way of his group pictures and told me to “get out of here!” I told him he did not own the mountain…along with a few other choice words…took my pictures and went on my way. I think he was just sore that they were still climbing and I was on my way back down. After Whitney we hiked another ten miles to set up for Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT. I ended up doing my first actual river crossing where I had to waid through. The next morning was started with frozen shoes. 

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Day #42 – May 27th: Forester Pass was insane…very steep and quite a bit of snow. On the way down I got to experience what hikers call “post hole-ing”… one minute I was walking/sliding down the mountain and the next my left leg sunk down to my knee! I fell forward and felt the bitter bite of my ligaments stretching in a unnatural direction. The next half of the day was a constant repeat of the later until around 10,500 ft where I ended up camping under Kearsarge Pass next to a half frozen lake. Caught a few fish for me and the crew. After Whitney and Forester and now eating fresh fish we all felt pretty hard core as we enjoyed the surrounding mountains.

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Day #43 – May 28th: Woke up with a thick layer of frost over my sleeping bag! So cold! Took the pass towards town. After about three miles I could see the camp parking lot with one motor home parked in it. The people seemed to be packing up so I seized the opportunity and sprinted down the mountain, bypassing most of the trail as I went. While approaching the vehicle I could hear the distinct language of a German accent . To break the ice I approached the Germans with a big smile and loudly announced my presence with “Gutten morgen! Ich Heisa Ryan! Vie heist du?” (in my best German) They agreed to drive me the 13 miles into town (Independence, CA). While in town I was able to contact Krista and her boyfriend Josh and we were able to hang out and catch up. Good thing too, because the gear shop that I needed to buy supplies from was closed, but they just so happened to know the guy working there so he opened the store up for me! Thanks Krista and Josh!!! 

Day 43 -a Day 43 -b

Day #44 – May 29th: I decided to spend another night in Independence to rest up after summitting Mt. Whitney to let my feet recuperate…planning on getting up at 5 am tomorrow and hitting the trail again!

Day #45 – May 30th: I left Independence with mixed feelings…on one hand, the hostel was so accommodating and the nice lady running the place took me under her wing, acquiring me a ride back to the trail and constantly presenting me with free ice cream.  On the other, the gas station in town where I picked up my resupply packages tried to charge me $10 per box. I talked the guy down to $6 and a cup of coffee to sweeten the deal. As I was making my coffee I accidentally dropped it. It spilled all over the floor and, with a grin, I told the guy that the deal was not final until I walked out with a cup of coffee. Needless to say he cussed me out in a language that I neither recognized nor wanted to understand (I did offer to mop it up for him, just because I’m living in the wilderness does not mean that I have completely forgotten how to be civil.)

Back on the trail I had to go over Kearsarge pass again but rather than backtrack I decided to take an alternate trail. The scenery in this section is amazing and climbing over the passes is a feeling words cannot describe…but if I had to pick one word it’d be: exhilarating. I decided to climb over Glen Pass that same day in hopes of catching back up with Mountain Goat, Zippy and Shredder. Let’s just say that Glen Pass kicked my butt and I was almost passed by another hiker! On the way down, there was too much snow to locate the trail so I just went straight down towards a lake with a land bridge that I needed to cross. When I got to the lake I decided to take a little nap. Two hours later, I woke up and moved on so that I would be set up for Pinchot Pass in the morning before the snow would get too soft to walk on.

Day 45 -h
800 Miles!

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Day #46 – May 31st: Pinchot Pass was fun. I ran into Wiki Wiki and we ran/slid down the other side. We both decided to try Mather Pass that same day. As I approached what I thought to be Mather Pass, the trail gave way to soft snow. It took me an extra hour to make the mile. Lucky for me, Mountain Goat and Shredder were camped at the base 600 ft from the top and the most treacherous part. Not wanting to fully put my tent up, I built a fort out of rocks instead.

Day #47 – June 1st: In the morning we moved on. We took our time lounging and fishing away the daylight hours. There are so many nice places to sit and take in the mountains, rivers, lakes and wildlife that hiking becomes a burden sometimes…seeming too big to take on. So today we stopped and enjoyed the sights and the fish.

Day 47 -a

Day #48 – June 2nd: Today, my left ankle kept giving out…I rolled it a half dozen times. I finally gave in and opened my med kit to grab some ibuprofen and tape, only to find a mushy concoction of pain meds, aspirin, ibuprofen and vitamins. I decided not to risk ingesting a potentially deadly mix of meds and sadly stuck the bag back into my pack to be disposed of in the next town. Here’s hoping my old back injury doesn’t flare up again! While taping my ankle, I stabbed myself with my knife and, in my surprise of stabbing myself, stepped on my sunglasses! They sad bad things happen in threes…so I felt pretty confident the rest of the day would go swell. Then, for good measure, I cut my ear with my knife while swatting at the persistent mosquitos! The only sound that could be heard was my ego rapidly imploding into thin air….what a day.

Muir Pass was by far the best pass. Not too steep, but no trail in sight, so instead of my usual approach of “see how far off my trail intuition can be”, Shredder broke out his compass and map. We took turns navigating and made short work of the ascent. We made it down the other side only post hole-ing a few times.

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Muir Pass

Day #49 – June 3rd: Well…today I took an unexpected detour from the trail. I hiked a little with Wiki Wiki again and then waited for the normal crew. After lunch I put my headphones in and prepared to do work for the next ten miles. Somewhere along the way, I hit another trail that I sort of new wasn’t right but I was following this amazing river! Then I stopped to fish for a bit. The trail was well used so I continued on, but then finally I broke out my maps and confirmed that I was not on the PCT anymore. I found a game trail and went up to a peak to get some perspective on the situation and in the distance was a dirt road and a dam. I could have just backtracked, but the adventure aspect was just too great to pass up. Following the road about give miles later, I started to have second thoughts. I have traveled roads like this with my dad and know firsthand how long they can be…but even far away the trail can hit you with her magic…two trucks came my way. They stopped and told me where I was and even offered to give me a ride to a nearby hot springs resort six miles down the road. As I jumped in I could plainly see the product of a grow operation in the bed of the truck. The guy with a permanent smile on his face offered me a sandwich and other random munchies. I couldn’t believe my luck, not only did I score a ride to some awesome hot springs where I could soak my tired body, but also that the only people on this road were so high 24/7 that they had a constant flow of snacks to freely share! Best day ever! Or so I thought. While driving down the road I was informed not to camp at the campsites at the hot springs because a pesky bear has been hanging around and stealing food for the past week. When I arrived at the resort I was offered a “cabin” for a mere $95. This “cabin” had nothing more than a few beds with the kind of covers that you would put on a kids bed to keep their urine from soaking into the mattress…I remember them well. No electricity, running water or indoor plumbing. The “spa” consisted of old tubs and when I asked for a towel the old guy running the place looked insulted and then came back with a roll of bounty only to give me four squares of paper towel. Apparently this spa is BYOT when you rent these luxurious $95 a night cabins. I looked at him with a smirk and said “challenge accepted.” (Enjoy cleaning five days of hiker filth from the bottom of your tub, sir) After my sulfur bath I proceeded to the restaurant only to be cut off by the sly old man as he informed me that the restaurant was closed until the peak tourist season (shouldn’t that be starting now?). But it is open on the weekends so if I wanted to stay until Saturday he was willing to work a deal on rates. Well played old man…well played indeed. Tomorrow I will walk to another resort, hike three miles along a lake, then give miles on a trail that will take me to the PCT. From there I have one more pass to climb, then another day to Reds Meadow where hopefully I can hitch a ride to Mammoth Lake and find Mountain Goat and Shredder. After that is a two day hike to my actual resupply stop at Tuolumne Meadows…then four days where I plan on hitching 30 miles to a town I can’t remember the name of so that I can get rid of my bear canister, winter gloves and those heavy micro spikes that I used for about 40 yards. Excellent purchase. Until then I will wait until morning and use all of my mental strategy to one-up the old man in the ongoing battle of wits that we seem to playing. Good night!

Day 49 -c Day 49 -d

 

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Notes from Days 34-39 (May 19-May24)

Day #34 – May 19th: A storm is moving in and after much debate I decided to stay in Kennedy Meadows for one more night to let the bulk of the snow move past us. It’s currently snowing at 7,000 feet and I’m at 6,300…and its only uphill from here. The group I am planning on summiting Mt. Whitney with is staying at least one more night, so we’re gonna see how it all plays out! I’d much rather be hiking right now, but its better to be safe than sorry. So for right now I’ll just sit here in this hammock in my sleeping bag reading bear attack stories out of a book I found.

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The Kennedy Meadows “Internet Cafe”

Day #35 – May 20th: Have I mentioned how much I dislike being stuck not hiking!!! I had an epic battle in my head of why I am out here doing this. I could never have imagined how hard it is being away from the people I love and care for. It really hit hard today, I was actually contemplating hitching to a bus station and calling it good enough for now. Until those words stuck in my head….. For now… No, I will not stop until I have had my fill for good! Until then I will keep on hiking. The best parts are coming up now, Mt. Whitney and Forester Pass. It is going to be tough but an experience I will always remember. In other news…I visited an alpaca farm today! The owner was in the Kennedy Meadows General Store and he let me ride with him in his Gator for a tour. He is a cool dog that hunts rattlesnakes.

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My new alpaca friend
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Mountain Goat and I and the rattlesnake hunting dog

Day #36, 37 & 38 – May 21-23: 40 miles in three days. Not the pace I was hoping for. We got stuck in a little snow storm, so much for blue skies. Trudged up to 10,000 feet through a little more than 2.5 feet of snow. Very pretty but slow going. All along the trail hikers were hunkered down waiting for clear trails. I personally like the snow and cold, but my feet hold a different opinion  On that matter…I do not think trail runners were made with snow hiking in mind. On the second night Zippy, Mountain Goat and I made a fire and attempted to dry out our shoes and socks while being dumped on by a wet hail storm. We took stock of our food supplies and the lack of snow gear and decided to make an emergency stop into Lone Pine for resupply. All was agreed upon until a hard core hiker by the name of Dirt Monger came sauntering up. He took stock of the sad picture of three soaked, hungry, cold hikers and asked our plans. After we explained our situation he looked at me with cold steely eyes and in a voice that would inspire legions of mediocre would-be soldiers, announced “This is the PCT. Your feet are going to get wet, you’re going to get cold and you will get hungry” in my mind the challenge was accepted!  But, the next morning we woke up to frost covered sleeping bags. Might be time to start packing long johns. Town sounded splendid. Oh well, maybe next time I will man up and push through. But today I will let it play out in town.

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Mountain Goat and Zippy by the fire in a hail storm

Day #39 – May 24th: In Lone Pine I stocked up on more food, gloves and microspikes for snow-walking. We stayed at a hostel last night and got warmed up. Today we’ll head back out on the trail and the day after tomorrow I will head up Mt. Whitney! Perfect weather is forecast for the 26th and I’m so excited! There is another storm coming in 5 days, but we should be Independence by then. Wish me luck!

Notes from Days 18-23 (May 3-May 8)

Day #18 – May 3rd: I took my first 0 mile day today and only left my bed at the Best Western a few times…for the complimentary breakfast (of which I ate a RIDICULOUS amount), to go down the street and get tacos, to shower, and to repack my backpack. I’ll hit up the breakfast again in the morning and hope to be on the trail around 6:30 am. 22.1 miles to the next water source!

Day #19 – May 4th: I grudgingly left the Best Western at Cajon Pass (CA-HONE, not CAJUN I learned haha), nothing but uphill from here on out until my destination of Guffy Campground where there is water and an alpine camping area. The first part of my day was filled with scrub brush and large lizards. I had to walk a road to bypass the dreaded poodle-dog bush (you can read more about it here) It thrives in areas that have been burnt by forest fire, and there was a fire in this area in 2009. After that, the landscape slowly turned into pine trees and it reminds me of Eastern Washington. I hiked the 22 miles in record time and was in my sleeping bag by 6:30pm!

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My camp area at Guffy Campground

Day #20 – May 5th: A windy night blew in dust that covered everything in my tent with a fine film. Earlier in the night my tent was brought down by a big gust of wind…I had a good chuckle about it and then went back to bed. I spent a good portion of the morning walking under chairlifts and meandering along ski runs. I came to a water spigot near a Park Ranger information building when out of no where i was bombarded by a group of elementary students on a field trip. I gave a spur of the moment, not-so-informational speech about the trail and what it’s all about. I didn’t realize until some other hikers pointed out later that the dust from the night before had also settled on ME and had turned into a mud mask. I probably frightened those poor children…Anyway, after that I climbed to the top of Mt. Baden-Powell and then pushed on to the endangered yellow frog detour at Eagles Roost. Things are finally starting to click and I’m starting to feel stronger every day. My feet are healing and my hip wounds are nothing but little pink scars now.

(From the Pacific Crest Trail Association Website: “The once thriving Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog is now nearly extinct. To protect the frog, the PCT has been closed for several years from Eagles Roost [mile 390.3] to the Burkhart trail junction [mile 394]. In 2011 the PCTA created a new official detour that avoids any highway road walking.)

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My tent in the morning
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My new elementary school friends

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Hiking in the ski area

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At the top of Mount Baden-Powell

 

Day #21 – May 6th: After stealth camping at eagle roost I got a late start in hopes of hitching a ride for the freeway portion of the detour. With only one car passing by the whole time I ended up walking the whole thing. The next water source was at a Boy Scout camp, but earlier reports stated the it was turned off. To my relief the water was on put tasted of rust and left a film on my tongue. I sat under the deck awning and had lunch and was joined by Banana Boat and Chris who had gotten a hitch for the whole detour. Later that night a realized I left my spoon there. All hope was lost. I also got hailed on in a crazy hail storm! 

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MILE 400!!

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No thank you,

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Boy Scout Camp and the crazy hail storm!

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BEWARE the Poodle-Dog Bush!

Day #22 – May 7th: Sooo…the poodle dog bush got me. My face is swollen and my hands are covered in a rash. Doesn’t feel great. But today I hiked to a KOA a little ways off the trail outside of Acton, CA and luckily my doctor had sent me on my journey with some ointment just in case I wandered in to some poodle dog bush or poison oak. So that helped a lot! From the KOA I got a ride into Acton and explored the town and then to get back to the KOA I ordered Chinese food to be delivered there from Acton and just hitched a ride with the delivery guy! haha! At first he said he couldn’t do that, but called back and said he could…so funny.

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Day #23 – May 8th: From the KOA I hiked 10 miles to The Saufley’s house. There I will stay tonight and tomorrow night to give my feet and shins a little rest. My next stop is about a two day hike away before I start a brutal 9 day stretch with no water available…so I’ll be carrying enough food and water for 9 days on my back through the Mojave Desert, which I hear will be having some crazy weather…50mph winds and over 100 degree temps! WOO HOO! 🙂

 

Notes from Days 7-11 (April 22-April 26)

Day # 7 – April 22nd: I was finally able to convince myself to leave the comforts of Warner Springs and I hiked to last river crossing. I sat down to have dinner and just as I was finishing up I noticed a rustling sound in the leaves. I looked down to see hundreds of huge red and black ants heading my way! I escaped unscathed and continued on until about 8:45 and only getting 9 miles in that day.

Day # 8 – April 23rd: I awoke just knowing I was going to put in my longest day yet. I did not realize it was going to turn out the longest day emotionally and physically as well. Most the day went well, my feet were still hurting but the pain was tollerable. It wasn’t until almost dusk when I stopped to take a break. I took off my backpack and started to lift my shirt when I realized it was stuck to my body. Unknowingly, the area on my hips where my waist belt of my back pack was chaffing had gotten effected and was leaking puss through my shirt…where it had dried and made a bond with my skin and shirt. I decided to tear my shirt away fast versus slow. The pain was so horrible that I threw up immediately after. Once that ordeal was over I could not get my wounds to stop bleeding my only option was duct tape. I continued on for another 20 minutes when out of no where I felt a pop and squish on the bottom front of my left foot and searing pain followed. I had to sit down and take a look. One of the deep blisters blew out and the air and sand that mixed in was causing horrible swelling and pain. I hobbled to the top of a peak and found I had service. That is when a conversation I had with Madison a week earlier replayed in my head. If I ever wanted a cup of coffee she new a family that would be willing to maybe take me in for a bit. She had said they lived close to the next freeway crossing I was coming up to. I quickly said a prayer that one: Madison would answer her phone and two: that those people would be willing to pick me up. Madison did pick up and the next morning a stranger named Dean went completely out of his way to pick me up.

Day 9 – April 24th: I woke up early and hiked the next nine miles to get to the highway where Dean had agreed to pick me up. He needed to go back to work so he quickly opened his house, gave me a tour and told me to call if I needed anything. I showered, rested and recuperated  Later his wife Kari texted me and picked up some medical supplies for me. I am still at a loss for words. Here I was ready to quit and needing help and at a drop of a hat these two lovely people welcomed me into their home as if I was family. I stayed until about 4:30 when Dean and Kari drove around the trail detour (a portion of the PCT is currently closed because of a forest fire) to Devils Slide. I flew through the next thirty some miles powered by the kindness I was just shown.

Day # 10 – April 25th: Today I saw my first real rattle snake and took a drink from a water fountain in the middle of no where. I also hit 200 MILES!!! The last five miles to my destination I got caught in a sand storm. Winds almost blowing me over and sand blasting my sun glasses to dust. My destination for the day was a Trail Angel’s home called Ziggy and the Bear where I had my second resupply box waiting for me (Trail Angels are people who live along the trail and lend assistance to PCT hikers). I spent the night there and it poured rain all night so I was glad to be dry under an overhang. 

Day #11 – April 26th: Now I climb about 7000 feet. Through a wind farm. I will be out of contact for roughly seven days due to the fact I have no way to charge my phone from this check point to the next. It is cold pretty cold, if I would have come down the mountain a day earlier I would have been hit with snow! Wish me luck and I’ll update again as soon as I can. The next stop, seven days down the trail is a Best Western where I do believe I will get a room for a night and relax 🙂

***See pictures from these adventures under the “photos” tab and see where I am on the map under the “where am I” tab!****

Notes from Days 2-7 (April 17-April 22)

Day #2 – April 17th: Lake Morena to Burnt Ranch Camp – Last night as I camped packed in with about thirty other hikers I couldn’t help but miss Maya. An older couple had their tent pitched about three feet from mine and one of them snored just like Maya. I started the day quite early heading out of camp around 7:30am. At about 10 I took a nice break and aired out my feet. The blisters are coming! I planned on staying in a small camp four miles from Mt. Laguna and planned my water accordingly.

Day #3 – April 18th: Very hot today, but amazing views hiking between lush green mountains and dry brown dead ones. So quiet out here with just my breathing, pattering of my feet and the wind. I passed through many burnt areas and stopped at a small camp to refill water and have lunch. I talked with some hikers that I had seen intermittently on the trail so far. I finally decided to use my solar panel and it didn’t work…thanks Obama. haha Ended up spending the night in a giant meadow.

Day #4 – April 19th: Started the day at 6am and the sun was coming in hot already. I need to get a fire tank before my water runs out. The trail is hot and very rocky…like rocks the size of a fist all over the place. Not great for the ankles. It was so hot coming down scissor crossing, my feet were pressing against my shoes from the swelling making them look like blue sausages. I stumbled under an overpass where there is a water cache and time stopped when I laid down. I woke with a fright like you do when coming out of a nightmare. I stood up to grab a Pepsi only to fall forward because my feet would not support me. Luckily, another a hiker named Dan had arranged a ride to an RV Park four miles down the road. I immediately jumped on that idea and within an hour I was showered and soaking my feet in the pool while my laundry was washing. I was also fed a huge, awesome home-cooked dinner. How quickly things can turn around 🙂

Day #5 – April 20th: I decided to wait until 4pm before hitching a ride back to the trail. The morning was rough…woke up to the bottom of my heels looking like giant plums and my toes looking like prunes. I could barely get my Nike compression pants off. One hour later they had shrunk back to a more manageable size. I soon put two and two together and realized that the strap on the compression pants that wraps around the arch of my foot was cutting off the circulation in my feet. Thanks a lot Nike! I cut them off immediately. (Note about the compression pants…I wear them as I sleep to push the toxins out of my leg muscles so that my legs are less sore. That part is working like a champ, but the foot straps not so much) I started hiking at 4:30. It was still hot and I hiked until dusk and took a short break. Then I put my headlamp on and kept hiking. Two hours later I turned around and told Dan matter-of-factly that I was going to make it to one hundred! Night hiking was exhilarating. I felt like a primal nomad…but also a little gangster at the same time since I was bumping Kanye in my headphones….well as gangster as a white kid from western Washington hiking through the desert night with a little headlamp and trekking poles can feel. I saw giant fireflies, spooked up some deer and saw my first snake! Thankfully, it was a tiny baby rattler. Made mile 100 at 3:07 am and 10 minutes later Dan showed up and we set up camp and passed out around 3:30am.

Day #6 – April 21st: Woke up at 6am and started trekking 15 minutes later. Nine miles to my first resupply! I felt so good and energized that I started jogging! Man, I prefer to jog over walking…I always have! We stopped at Eagle Rock and then made it to my first resupply point, Warner Springs. My felt bad and swollen and I’m worried that an infection is happening inside some of the deeper blisters. I spent the rest of the day going though my resupply box, lounging and making calls.

Day #7 – April 22nd: My feet are really bad. I found a giant bottle of peroxide in the hiker box and poured half of it on my feet and watched the reaction…beautiful…but my feet instantly felt better. Dan and I found a ride to a Big 5 twenty miles away, so we’re going to head out there and grab some stuff for feet and a few other small things we need and then the plan is to start hiking around 4 or 5 this afternoon.

100 Miles!

I gave my feet most of the day yesterday (Easter) to heal and rest and then waited for it to cool down a little bit before I hit the trail again. I left the Stage Coach RV Park for the trail at around 4pm and hiked through the night where I hit the 100 mile marker at 3:07am!

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Dan & I at 3:07am – 100 Miles!
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6am 4/21/2014 on the PCT

I took a little snooze from 3:30am until 6am when I hit the trail again for another 9 miles to my first re-supply point, Warner Springs. The hike to Warner Springs was the most beautiful scenery I have seen so far. Eagle Rock was awesome.

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Eagle Rock